Culinary collaboration is all the rage right now. Our craft beer-soaked bar culture has offered numerous versions during beer week, most notably Exit 6 (Flying Fish, Stewart's, and Nodding Head Brewery) and the Brotherly Suds (Yard's Brewing, Victory Brewing, Troeg's Brewing, Stoudt's Brewing, and Sly Fox Brewery), and the All-Star Chef Dinners hatched by David Katz at Meme Restaurant (notables include: Mike Solomonov, Pierre Calmels, Jen Carroll, Peter Woolsey, John Taus, Johnny Mac).
These team efforts have been very successful in Philadelphia, where cooking and brewing have turned those who boil the suds and sear the meat into celebrities.
David Ansill is a local cooking legend whose fans have followed him from Judy's, to Pif, to Ansill Food+Wine, and currently, to Ladder 15. We ran into the chef over the weekend, who told us he would be participating in his own collaboration with two very unlikely partners.
"Han Chiang from Han Dynasty and Sam Jacobson from Sycamore asked me if I wanted to do a collaboration dinner at Han's," said the goateed cook. "I said yes right away. I can't wait." We can't either.
No definitive date has been set, but all three chefs have confirmed it will take place at Han Dynasty on Front and Chestnut Streets on a Monday in November. Reservations will be taken at Han Dynasty shortly. The restaurant can be reached at 215-922-1888.
For those not familiar, Han Dynasty is the city's very best Sichuan eatery, and the caretaker of the hottest food around. Han Chiang is revered for his ability to layer unique flavors and spices in traditional Chinese dishes that have never been seen before by casual and adventurous diners alike (e.g. cold rabbit and peanuts in chili oil). His Monday tastings are booked up through January, and Craig LaBan loved Han's place enough to ring out a stunning three-bell review.
Sycamore BYOB is nestled in the tiny town of Lansdowne and has created a destination for foodies just outside of the Philadelphia border. Sam Jacobson has carved out a niche for himself in his very first Executive Chef position, wowing locals and garnering praise from our most picky and ranting critics. Taking chances with every dish he plates, Jacobson has found unique ways to present seemingly unfriendly pairings and make them sing, such as his grilled octopus with blueberries.
The unlikely partnership actually makes perfect sense. Even though their cuisine types come from polar opposite regions of the globe, all three are risk takers who challenge their diners to go down a road they might not normally travel. It's going to be edgy, and it's going to be spicy. It might just be the absolute best collaboration of all.
Collin Flatt is the Philadelphia food editor of TheFeast.com, a new lifestyle franchise being launched by NBC Philadelphia later this year. This spring, Flatt designed the beer program at Ladder 15.